Capitol Alert

Low voter turnout eases ballot-measure requirement

A paid signature gathered works outside outside a Lowe's Home Improvement store.
A paid signature gathered works outside outside a Lowe's Home Improvement store. Sacramento Bee

Got a ballot measure for 2016? You’re in luck.

Ballot initiatives two years from now will need about 30 percent fewer qualifying signatures than they did this year, according to the political-consulting types at Sacramento’s Redwood Pacific Public Affairs.

The reason: abysmal turnout for the Nov. 4 election. California requires valid signatures equal to 8 percent of the most recent gubernatorial vote to qualify a constitutional amendment for the ballot, 5 percent for regular laws and veto referenda.

This year voter-approved Proposition 2, the rainy-day fund constitutional amendment, needed 807,615 valid signatures to reach the ballot. Two years from now, just 560,000 signatures will do the trick, Redwood Pacific figures. (To be safe, petitioners try to collect more signatures than required.)

Then mix in the impact of Senate Bill 1253 which, among other things, extends the signature-gathering window from 150 days to 180 days. It’s a recipe “that could lower the overall cost of signature gathering,” said Redwood Pacific partner Aaron McLear,.

Signature collection companies charge between $1.50 and $2 per name, McLear said, but saving a half-million dollars still might not be enough to attract initiative underwriters.

“You still have to run a campaign,” he said.

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.

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